Sunday, April 25, 2010

Aspiration not envy

Although I enjoyed, for the most part, the TV series "Number One Ladies Detective Agency" based on his books I'm not familiar with Alexander McCall-Smith's political affiliations, but what ever they are he has written an excellent article in the Daily Mail.

Mr. McCall-Smith touches on a variety of points which are all valid, but the central thrust of his article hits out at the way the political process has been infantilised. With Nick Clegg enjoying a massive boost in his popularity thanks to his ability to talk to people like they were ten year olds, this is not an entirely surprising development - because the fact is that we have become more and more child-like.

Mr. McCall-Smith points to the over use of a particular word to highlight this issue - the word "fair" - and he points out the phrase "it's not fair!" is the among the favourite sayings of the average five year old and goes on to wonder whether it is even possible to achieve such a thing as a "fair society".

Fairness is a very subjective measure and McCall-Smith rightly makes the connection between fairness and envy and the fact that what politicians who make a fuss about fairness are doing is actually playing up the emotion of envy.

Envy is a very negative emotion which closely associates with jealousy, anger, fear and hatred. When politicians talk about fairness they are encouraging you to feel these emotions - and that is why we see increasing evidence of community breakdown.

Is this any different from the past?

Yes - because what politicians used to go on about wasn't "fairness" but aspiration. Aspiration is a positive emotion encouraging endeavour, enterprise, responsibility and, above all, hope.

We all know that social mobility has declined since the advent of the progressive movement and I don't believe this is a coincidence. It's declined because the progressives - with their emphasis on creating a "fair" society have declared that people do not need to aspire to make their own lives better - the progressives will do it for them.

Of course, this is impossible - but it hasn't stopped them trying and the result has been to create an even more unfair society. What we need are politicians who are not scared to tell the truth and who are prepared to tell people that if they think something is "unfair" they have the power to change that through hard work and that it is their responsibility.

The job of the government is to make it possible for everyone to be able to do that, but progressive politicians concern themselves with equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity.

No where is this more apparent than in the education system which has been stripped of all that was good about it and turned into a factory system designed to churn identical "products" rather than push children to do the best that they can achieve.

If you want to know what the progressive vision of a "fair society" in Britain would look like just look at our schools.

No - it's not a pretty sight is it.


Lightf00t said...

100% correct. You're really good at being able to articulate your thoughts. Your points here are what I'm always trying to get across to all those lefties I meet on a daily basis, yet I never seem to be able to make them "get it".

Mind you, progressive types are notoriously stubborn; they won't admit they're wrong, even when they know they are.

Stan said...

Thanks for the praise, Lightf00t, but I think it's misplaced. I have the same problem trying to get my points across to people on the left and the right who don't want to listen.

As you correctly note - it isn't about the ability to articulate - it's about the willingness of others to understand and far too many don't want to.

That applies equally to progressives and "free trade" conservatives. They do not understand because they do not want to.